Castlefort Junior Mixed and Infant School

Inspiring Bright Futures Together

Spoken Language

What is Spoken Language?


The national curriculum for English reflects the importance of spoken language in pupils’ development across the whole curriculum – cognitively, socially and linguistically. Spoken language underpins the development of reading and writing. The quality and variety of language that pupils hear and speak are vital for developing their vocabulary and grammar and their understanding for reading and writing.

Through the eyes of our children, speaking is important because:


‘It helps us to listen to the views of others and explain, in a clear and confident manner, what we think ourselves. ’


Early Learning Goals


Communication and Language


  • Speaking - Children express themselves effectively, showing awareness of listeners’ needs. They use past, present and future forms accurately when talking about events that have happened or are to happen in the future. They develop their own narratives and explanations by connecting ideas or events.
  • Listening and attention - Children listen attentively in a range of situations. They listen to stories, accurately anticipating key events and respond to what they hear with relevant comments, questions or actions. They give their attention to what others say and respond appropriately, while engaged in another activity.
  • Understanding - Children follow instructions involving several ideas or actions. They answer ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions about their experiences and in response to stories or events.


National Curriculum


The National Curriculum for English reflects the importance of spoken language in pupils’ development across the whole curriculum – cognitively, socially and linguistically. Spoken language underpins the development of reading and writing. The quality and variety of language that pupils hear and speak are vital for developing their vocabulary and grammar and their understanding for reading and writing. Teachers should therefore ensure the continual development of pupils’ confidence and competence in spoken language and listening skills.


Pupils should develop a capacity to explain their understanding of books and other reading, and to prepare their ideas before they write. They must be assisted in making their thinking clear to themselves as well as to others and teachers should ensure that pupils build secure foundations by using discussion to probe and remedy their misconceptions. Pupils should also be taught to understand and use the conventions for discussion and debate.


Statutory requirements which underpin all aspects of speaking and listening across the six years of primary education form part of the national curriculum. These are reflected and contextualised within the reading and writing domains which follow.


Curriculum Intent


At Castlefort JMI Primary School, we value Spoken Language as an important part of the children’s entitlement to a broad and balanced curriculum. Spoken Language provides the children with the opportunities to develop and extend skills and an opportunity to express their individual interests, thoughts and ideas.


Our aim is to enable the children improve their levels of spoken language so that all pupils are able to communicate effectively and confidently in front of any type of audience.  These skills are encouraged in every area of our curriculum as good communication skills can enhance every type of learning. The children are encouraged to explore ideas through talk; challenge each other’s opinions and develop their own reasoned arguments, as well as talking in full sentences with a clear and confident voice.


Pupils should be taught to:


  • listen and respond appropriately to adults and their peers
  • ask relevant questions to extend their understanding and build vocabulary and knowledge
  • articulate and justify answers, arguments and opinions
  • give well-structured descriptions and explanations
  • maintain attention and participate actively in collaborative conversations, staying on topic and initiating and responding to comments
  • use spoken language to develop understanding through speculating, hypothesising, imagining and exploring ideas
  • speak audibly and fluently with an increasing command of Standard English
  • participate in discussions, presentations, performances and debates
  • gain, maintain and monitor the interest of the listener(s)
  • consider and evaluate different viewpoints, attending to and building on the contributions of others
  • select and use appropriate registers for effective communication.


For the full set of year group targets, please see below.




The teaching and implementation of the Spoken Language curriculum at Castlefort JMI Primary School is based on the Early Learning Goals and National Curriculum.


Staff at Castlefort JMI model the use of higher level vocabulary within their speech and expanding children’s vocabulary is a key focus in all years. Subject specific vocabulary is embedded across the curriculum, through teacher modelling, in context. Contextual learning helps children to understand new words and supports them in including new vocabulary in their work. This model is reflected in both shared and guided reading sessions, where children are given the chance to explore unfamiliar vocabulary and expand their knowledge of words. We are keen to model the correct grammar in speech, for example using ‘we were’ instead of ‘we was’ and encourage children to reflect this in their use of spoken and written language. Children are given the chance to orally rehearse ideas for writing regularly.


Drama is used across a range of subjects including History, hot-seating during English lessons and Religious Education, to explore and engage children in their learning. This gives children the chance to embed the use of specific vocabulary repetitively.




Through the explicit teaching of Speaking skills, teachers and the children assess their learning continuously throughout the lesson. Children are given a range of  opportunities to develop these skills, in a safe and stimulating environment. The wide range of speaking and listening activities help to develop ideas, vocabulary and confidence, as, the more we talk, the more we notice different words that other people use.  Three times each year, in autumn, spring and summer, attainment is assessed using the key objectives from the Classroom Monitor assessment tool. This enable teachers to make informed judgements about the depth of children’s learning and the progress children have made over time.   



30-50 months


Communication and Language:

  • Listening and attention: Listens to others one to one or in small groups, when conversation interests them. Listens to stories with increasing attention and recall.  Joins in with repeated refrains and anticipates key events and phrases in rhymes and stories. Focusing attention – still listen or do, but can shift own attention.  Is able to follow directions (if not intently focused on own choice of activity).
  • Understanding: Understands use of objects (e.g. “What do we use to cut things?’) Shows understanding of prepositions such as ‘under’, ‘on top’, ‘behind’ by carrying out an action or selecting correct picture.  Responds to simple instructions, e.g. to get or put away an object.  Beginning to understand ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions.
  • Speaking: Beginning to use more complex sentences to link thoughts (e.g. using and, because). Can retell a simple past event in correct order (e.g. went down slide, hurt finger). Uses talk to connect ideas, explain what is happening and anticipate what might happen next, recall and relive past experiences. Questions why things happen and gives explanations. Asks e.g. who, what, when, how.
  • Uses a range of tenses (e.g. play, playing, will play, played). Uses intonation, rhythm and phrasing to make the meaning clear to others.
  • Uses vocabulary focused on objects and people that are of particular importance to them. Builds up vocabulary that reflects the breadth of their experiences. Uses talk in pretending that objects stand for something else in play, e,g, ‘This box is my castle.’


40-60 months


Communication and Language:

  • Listening and attention: Maintains attention, concentrates and sits quietly during appropriate activity. Two-channelled attention – can listen and do for short  span.
  • Understanding: Responds to instructions involving a two-part sequence. Understands humour, e.g. nonsense rhymes, jokes. Able to  follow a story without pictures or props. Listens and responds to ideas expressed by others in conversation or discussion.
  • Speaking: Extends vocabulary, especially by grouping and naming, exploring the meaning and sounds of new words. Uses language to  imagine and recreate roles and experiences in play situations. Links statements and sticks to a main theme or intention. Uses talk to organise, sequence and clarify thinking, ideas, feelings and events. Introduces a storyline or narrative into their play.